Book of the Crosses


Libro De Las Cruzes (Book of the crosses) is one of the codices produced in the royal chamber of Alfonso X, King of Castile and Leon, also known as Alfonso el Sabio (Alfonso the Wise). This book is one of the very few publications in which Alfonso officially refers to himself as the king of Spain. The work shows the king’s interest in astrology. Alfonso’s extended royal stays in Toledo, and the fact that the codex was completed in 1259, also hint that the king could have been present to actively supervise this translation from the Arabic. The translators were Judah ben Moses ha-Cohen and Johan Daspa, two frequent collaborators in various projects carried out under Alfonso X. The translation is based on the work by the Arab astrologer Oveidala (ʿUbayd Allah b. Jalaf al-Istiyi). Some scholars believe that the original version of this work was a late Latin text from the Visigoth era, on which Oveidala based his work. In this version, a 59th chapter referring to Spain is added. The manuscript was done on parchment with French gothic typography, and it includes ornamental details and initial letters in red and blue. The circles were painted using red ink, and the surrounding filigree was painted in blue, green, or violet. There are some figurative ornamental accents, such as faces (sheets 14 recto and 36 recto). The title of the work comes from the intersecting diameters of the circles, which divide the circles into six sections. The manageable size of the book suggests that it was intended for frequent use.

Last updated: March 24, 2015